Running and traveling are two peas in a pod for me and my favourite way to see the world. I hope this page becomes a community board and everyone has a great run where ever they go! You can also find great routes for Canada and Europe and give your feedback there too.
San Francisco Bay Area
There are absolute gem places to run in San Francisco and the surrounding area. I have listed my favourite.
Golden Gate Park is nearly five miles long and a vast system of chip trails and cement sidewalk paths, some leading to Ocean Beach where you can continue on for many miles in either coastal direction. On Sundays, the Golden Gate Park closes to vehicle traffic and you can run down the middle of the road if you like. There is a slight grade to the park, but it is mostly flat.
Crissy Fields is another stunning tribute to the outdoors. This paved and gravel trail follows the coast line and takes you from Fort Point under the Golden Gate bridge all the way to Aquatic Park and Fisher’s man wharf. From the bridge to Aquatic Park is 5 miles (8kms) one way. You can add milage by running up to the bridge and over it (hilly, but worth it) and into the Marin Headlands if you are looking for a hardcore long run, or by continuing along the roadsides to the Presidio, another vast system of trails and ocean hugging scenic running (though be alert along the roadways here as cyclist and car traffic can be blinded by the curvy road). Another option is to double back toward Fisher’s Wharf and keep going until you hit the Embarcadero, but get ready to dodge tourists.
A little more about The Presidio; this network of hilly, tough trails ascend to ocean view out-looks back down to sea level trails. Recent upgrades and trail maintenance have made even more beautiful routes possible in the park, but be sure to keep notice of the trail post signage as you can easily get turned around in the park and GPS service is not always available. You’re not going to get seriously lost, but you may add unwanted miles to tired legs if you are not mindful.
The Sawyer Camp Trail in San Mateo is my favourite place to test my chops. I frequently run this flat, fast 6 mile out and back (12 miles/20km total) trail to see if I can match my previous PRs. The trail has 1/2 mile markers the entire way and though it can be a little clogged at the trail head, it clears up after the first mile revealing quiet, deer and often foxes. There is some debate as to the accuracy of the milage, so take your GPS or take your fast time and satisfy yourself either way.
The Marin Headlines are expansive, hill top and valley floor trails that will leave you gassed out and breathless with the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean as your reward. As mentioned above, you can access the trails on foot by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, but this would be a rather long run. Alternatively, you can drive and park (I commend near the trails the Marin Headlands Visitor Center and Rodeo Beach) and then follow the signposts. Get ready for steep.
San Diego, California
The Pacific ocean in San Diego offers miles and miles and miles of ocean front running. From the flat paved Ocean Beach bike path to the rugged and hilly trails of Sunset Cliffs. You can create any kind of training from a marathon long run, to a hill workout, to sprints and tempos, all with the inspiring seaside view of the Southern California coastal-scape. My favourite route is a 10km out and back hill workout along the Sunset cliffs with the 5km turn around point at the peak of a grueling hill. The epic view and speedy downhill descent are reward for duking it out to the top. And the best way to complete this run, is to go pick up my dog and take him to Dog Beach where he gets his off leash sprints on while I drink coffee and stretch out my tired legs. Priceless.
Mt. Tabor is a volcanic cinder cone that became a reservior and park in the early 1900’s, It’s located in Southeast Portland, and offers spectacular views of the city at sunset along with decent hills and enough switchbacks to get in a 10km on the trails before you would need to add in the asphalt paths to increase your distance. The main reservoir on the lower portion of the park is offers a gravel path that is just shy of 1 km lap if you’re looking for a track style run. There is also a great stair workout leading from that reservoir to the next level and the main park itself. And by “great stair workout”, I mean steep and hard but worth the effort as you are rewarded with the glory of Portland spread out below.
Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY
Of course, if you are in New York, you have to run Central Park at least once in your running career, so go do that run and then head over to Brooklyn to Prospect Park for another memorable route. Prospect Park has a 3.35 mile (just over 5km) loop with clearly marked runner/pedestrian and bike paths on a ring road that is restricted to most vehicle traffic – you’ll see the occasionally cop car or Parks Department truck. The ring road is cambered (leans from the center of the road to the edges) so run close to the upper edge of the runner lane if you have knee issues. That said, if you do run at the crest line of the runner path, you must pay attention for bikes as the bike traffic is more like the guys in sponsored spandex, racing valadrom style and less like the bicycle-built-for-two crowd, so run safe and be aware of their approach. If you have GPS or a good sense of direction (maps are limited and I only passed one on the loop), there are many trails and other routes near the lake and up into the higher parts of the park. You could get decent milage on these paths and explore the beautiful park too. There are a good amount of runners of all skill levels out at the usual peak times and a sense of running community is definitely felt on this run.
Central Park, New York, New York
One of my first destination runs was in Central Park. From that run, to this day, I still feel like a badass when I run to and in Central Park. It’s electrifying to run up 5th AV, dodging traffic and people with Jay-Z playing in my ears before entering the grand park. If you need to limit the amount of concrete surfaces you run on, Central Park has a gravel and soft-pack trails through-out the park in addition to the concrete loop of road with the seperated runners and cyclist lanes.
The park is closed to vehicle traffic, Monday – Friday, from 10AM – 3PM and 7PM – 10PM and also on the weekends starting at 7PM on Friday through 6AM on Monday. The perimeter loop is 6.1 miles ( just shy of 10kms), or you can take various other routes through the park and easily double the park loop for a satisfying long run. Here is a map!
Bronx, New York
Van Courtlandt Park has a popular cross country course that is 99% dirt trail. It’s fun, easy to navigate thanks to the rabbit sign posts and you can loop here a few times before getting itchy for new scenery. The course has challenging hills with beautiful views that inspire you to plow up them.
Depending on how far you are from the Bronx, t’s relatively easy to get to the park via public transportation or car. If you drive, parking is ample, however, read the signs carefully as it is a metered area and there is also daily street sweeping.
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Please add your favourite destination runs to the comment section or suggestions for runs that should be on this list. This page updates frequently, so book mark it for exciting running route around the world and follow me on twitter too, @selfierunner!
Run the world!